And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain.”
After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.” Exodus 19:10-15 NIV
Most of my childhood was spent living in the jungles of Brazil. We had visitors from the US once every couple of years, on the average. Hence, they were special.
Plans were usually made months in advance and discussed in detail. It was a given that the guests would sleep in one of the kids’ bedrooms and the honor of having the guest in “my” room was immense. The arguments and negotiations were intense, protracted and often high decibel. The two courts of appeal were bombarded with every form of logic and twisted reasoning. Manipulation and blandishment exceeded that of a presidential election in terms of a single minded focus on the objective, with no ethics cluttering the process.
After a surfeit of words, adjudication was made. Instantly thereafter, appeals were furiously launched and prosecuted as though life itself were hanging in the balance. Eventually, the last appeal was either denied or sustained and the decision was accepted – or maybe just acknowledged and tolerated in the midst of dark grumblings about “next time. . .”
The winner, newly graced with temporary legitimacy, proceeded to make a shambles of all the Fruit of the Spirit, as the losers were reminded of their misfortune directly and indirectly, relentlessly.
And THEN the real work began. All books were removed from shelves. Cleaning was voluntarily done on a level we would never have embraced out of mere obedience. Books were returned to the shelves, newly reorganized along obvious themes, size, and color plus some mysterious algorithm known only to the possessor of the room-to-be-graced-with-a-visitor.
Curtains were washed; screens cleaned; closet downsized so there would be plenty of hangers and drawer space for the guest. It was as though they were going to stay for a decade, not a day.
When all cleaning was done and redone, usually about two months before company came, the serious creativity kicked in as every possible resource in the house and in town was scrutinized through the grid of, “Do you think they might like that?”
No interior decorator endured such equivocating, such indecision or such relentless pursuit of the never-in-human-history-achieved presentation, as my mother dealt with from her kids. We passionately took our legitimacy crutches to a new level.
And while the proud owner of the designated bedroom was waxing eloquent about his superior achievements to his most unappreciative audience, the rest of the kids were dividing the secondary spoils among them: one got the bathroom prep, another got to set the table ONE time, someone else had dibs on fixing and serving the dessert and the loser had to settle for carrying a suitcase in from the car.
In retrospect, I wonder what it was like for our guests to be relentlessly stalked by a small tribe of legitimacy-starved teens and preteens, inflicting themselves on the guest at all times.
My point is simply this. Our culture has streamlined worship to the level of treating God like a Twitter follower, who gets 140 characters from you, mostly missing vowels, leaving it to Him to decode your cryptic intentions.
What would it look like for you to spend three entire days in getting ready for a meeting with the Most High? What would you do? How many different aspects of your life could you address in preparation for an event that meant a lot to you?
The reality is that I have never in my adult life spent as much emotional energy focusing on preparation for one meeting with the King, as I did in childhood, preparing for a mere mortal.
Something is quite wrong with this picture.
Copyright June 2016 by Arthur Burk
From the Hub